Castlerock’s Marty Nutt got the defence of his Ducati TriOptions Cup up and running at Brands Hatch over the Easter weekend and the Nutt Travel/Ducati Coventry/JHP Racing rider did so in solid fashion with strong fourth and fifth place positions.
Running with the number one plate on the new 899 Ducati Panigale, an excellent qualifying performance saw Marty claim second place on the grid, just 0.016s adrift of pole position man Dennis Hobbs, but the dry sunny weather of Saturday was replaced by wet and murky conditions come Sunday’s opening race and the 15 laps would be treacherous to say the least.
Marty slotted into fifth place at the end of the opening lap, as Hobbs immediately opened up a sizeable gap at the head of the field, but by half race distance he’d moved up to fourth place, overhauling his main rival from 2013 Jonathan Railton. With considerable spray being thrown up by the bikes, visibility was reduced and with a long season ahead Marty opted for caution over valour, bringing the bike home for a solid fourth place.
The fine weather returned for Monday’s race and with a superb start, Marty went from fifth on the grid to first at the end of the opening lap. Here he remained until lap three when Leon Morris went ahead and by half race distance he’d slipped out of the top three, braking issues at Druids hairpin causing him to run ever so slightly wide. There was little to choose between the top five but the brake problems, combined with a lack of rear grip, meant Marty crossed the line in fifth place and with 24 points on the board, he ended the weekend in fourth place in the early Championship table.
“Conditions were pretty awful for the first race and as well as it being wet, it was cold too and you couldn’t get any temperature into the tyres at all,” said Marty.
“We’ve 16 races this season and a long way to go so there was no point risking anything but once I’d settled into a nice rhythm I felt strong and was ready to push hard in the second half of the race. However, a few yellow flags came out so I opted to settle for a solid fourth place and get my season up and running.
“Monday’s weather was the complete opposite and the start couldn’t have been any better but I had a few wee issues with the front brake around mid-race distance and it was just enough to hold me back.
“I’m still learning with the new bike and was also struggling a bit with rear grip so I think the way forward will be to stiffen the rear suspension and I’ll try and get a bit of testing done prior to the next round just to fine tune the set up. Overall though, I’m happy with two top five positions and we’ve got some good, solid points on board so it’s onwards and upwards from now on.”
The next round of the series takes place at Donington Park alongside the British round of the World Superbike Championship, the meeting taking place on May 23-25.